Rudy Gobert Can Save Timberwolves from 2nd Apron Tax Hell

Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Good health provided, the Minnesota Timberwolves will enter the 2024-25 NBA season as one of the favorites in the Western Conference. Obviously, it all starts with Anthony Edwards, who is playing for Team USA in the Paris Olympic Games this summer.

But the Wolves will also return just about every other major playmaker in their rotation regular rotation. That includes big men Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, yes. But key role players too, like Naz Reid, Jaden McDaniels and Mike Conley. Yes, rookies Rob Dillingham and Terrance Shannon Jr will get run too. But this is a roster of veterans, even if many of them are still in their mid-20s.

Minnesota Timberwolves roster stacked with talent… and expensive

Not only does a roster like that usually mean a lot of talent, but it’s also expensive. And in the NBA, there is no cap on what an owner can spend… just “luxury tax” penalties. The Minnesota Timberwolves are currently projected to be the second most expensive team in the league next season, at $205.6 million. The Wolves 2nd apron luxury tax bill next season is projected to be an astronomical $105.6 million (per Spotrac).

Team24-25 Total SalaryProj. Tax Bill
Suns$216.7 Million$165.5M
Timberwolves$205.6 Million$105.6M
Celtics$196.6 Million$65.6M
Bucks$191 Million$45M
Lakers$188.2 Million$35.8M
Heat$185.2 Million$27M
Nuggets$179.3 Million$13.5M

That would mean the Wolves’ roster is projected to cost Glen Taylor (or Marc Lore) a total of approximately $311 million next season. That type of player payroll would surely mean a rather large loss in net revenue.

But is there a way they could lessen the penalty without breaking up one of the best teams in basketball? Well… you might notice that the Celtics are only $10 million behind the Wolves in total payroll. Yet their tax bill is $50 million less.

Rudy Gobert could save Timberwolves from tax hell by signing extension (with pay cut)

There have been rumors floating around that the Minnesota Timberwolves want to extend 32-year-old Rudy Gobert. Looking at next year’s tax bill, we can get a pretty good idea as to why they have that interest.

Related: Adidas Just Backed Up the Brink’s Truck For Anthony Edwards

Jon Hollinger (The Athletic) is reporting that an extension for Gobert would push Minnesota under the 2nd apron luxury tax. Doing that would save Taylor a pile of cash, and the Timberwolves from other luxury tax penalties.

Finally there’s Rudy Gobert in Minnesota. The reigning Defense Player of the Year is technically eligible for a four-year, $243 million extension. No, he’s not getting that. What is interesting is whether the Wolves can slowly land the plane on the back half of his career by signing an extension that massages their impending giant luxury tax bill.

John Hollinger – The Athletic

No, the Timberwolves are not going to sign their aging 3rd star to a long-term maximum contract extension. That wouldn’t help their cap situation all that much, either now or in the future. Gobert is aware of his age and that’s why he is reportedly interested in taking more guaranteed money, in return for a pay cut.

Gobert extension would mean a pay cut… and lots of new money

Hollinger notes that $100 million in newly guaranteed cash could get Rudy’s cap number down $14 million per season. Not only would this help Taylor’s pocketbook, but it would also save a 2033 draft pick from being frozen, due to luxury tax penalties.

Having Gobert opt out of his $46.7 million due in 2025-26 and extend for a more manageable number over a four-year span is one of the more palatable exits from their current cap situation. But at what number? Something like $100 million in new money would see his cap number dip to $32.5 million in 2025-26, which would almost certainly allow Minnesota to skip the second apron and avoid having its 2033 draft pick frozen.

John Hollinger – The Athletic

To me, this sounds like an absolute no-brainer for everyone involved. Rudy gets his security on a team that has now learned how to play with him on the roster, plus $100 million in new money.

Related: Maybe the Timberwolves Aren’t All That Interested in More PG Help?

Meanwhile, whoever the Timberwolves’ owner is at the end of next season could save $50 million and lock in the defensive player of the year through the rest of his productive years, while also getting a big break on his future salary.

At this point, I’d be pretty shocked if this extension doesn’t get done sometime between the Olympics and the start of Wolves training camp in a couple months.

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